Read: Romans 9:1-18
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (v. 16)
Having older sisters who excelled in the high school and college I would attend brought an unexpected advantage. Professors who taught them assumed that I was just as smart. More often than not, I got the benefit of the doubt when the grade wavered between an A and a B. I felt (and sometimes acted) like I had a birthright to the Dean’s List. That didn’t work in seminary, where no professor knew the name “Opgenorth.”
Paul expresses anguish (v. 2) over his Jewish kinsmen’s reliance on their perceived birthright as descendants of Abraham. They rejected Jesus in part because they didn’t see the need for a Savior like him. They were Israelites by birth and, in their eyes, keepers of the covenant through obedience and sacrifice. They should have seen Jesus as the fulfillment of all God’s promises, but instead they sought his death by Pilate’s decree.
In the first half of Romans, Paul explained from the Old Testament that all people—Jews and Gentiles—are under God’s judgement as sinners, and all people—Jews and Gentiles—can be saved through the gift of God’s grace in Jesus. Even Abraham was saved by faith (Rom. 4:3) and not by works or birthright.
What good news! Salvation has nothing to do with being born into the right family or coming from a certain ethnicity. “So then it depends . . . on God, who has mercy” (9:16). Amen! —Jon Opgenorth
As you pray, thank God for his mercy.
About the Author
Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.